France. 7th June 2014

We headed North through Pamplona (where they have the Bull Run) and on toward Biarritz and the French border. We used Toll roads which were extremely expensive in the hope of finding better road surfaces but we failed.

As well as the pot holes, which are frequent, the road surface (particularly in the slow lane) is covered in a badly patched mosaic of Tarmac of different heights which at best reduces your speed. However, there are many viaducts and bridges on this route and where each one joins the existing road there is a strip running right across the carriageway, presumably this is for drainage or expansion but they are very often 3-4 inches below the surface of the Tarmac so when you hit them at 100 KPH they do an awful lot of damage.

We found all the clothes in the wardrobe had come off the rails and several of the plastic hangers had snapped due to the jolting they had received.

The worst damage though is to the cycle rack on the back of the van. Where the weight of the bikes is supported on an ‘L’ shaped aluminium tube the bouncing around has dented the framework to the point where it has split and the bikes now hang at a precarious angle which I’ll have to support with wire till we get home.

We chose a camp site north of Biarritz called Camping Du Lac. Number 1498 in the ACSI Book in ‘Ondres’ a pretty village with a Carrefore and a Sunday morning market.

It is a very pretty site, much greener than Spanish sites with grass pitches and lots of trees and shrubs. There’s a pool which is open, but it has the dopey French rules about only wearing ‘Speedo’ type swimming trunks and you have to leave your shoes outside the pool area on a rack and enter through a gate with a small foot washing area. Though most people seemed unable to grasp this and entered through the exit gate (wearing shoes) or exited through the entrance gate, trying to avoid standing in the foot wash.

The toilets and shower area is the usual confusing arrangement. On the map there are two areas, one by reception and one behind the pool. Thought the former is closed. The latter consists of two areas, one for showering which includes toilets and one separate toilets, though they are Unisex they cause an awful lot of frustration and embarrassment.

The washing up facilities are in this area though it’s a waste of time carrying pots and pans all the way there as there’s only cold water available, it’s quite dark and not very useful space.

Each plot appears to have a electricity a grey waste drain and a tap for fresh water but the tap is so low it’s difficult to get a watering can under it and you have to hold a button in which is back breaking.

The motorhome service point looks to require a token of some sort but has a tap for fresh water but no means of connecting a hose pipe so you would have to fill up with a watering can or bucket.

On the plus side, there’s a lake for fishing and a cycle track from the site that runs off road all the way to the beach, about a 15 minute cycle normally or half an hour if your with Jaki. There are cycle routes branching off through the woods clearly sign posted to other towns and villages, so plenty of good cycling.

At the beach there is an Aire for about 20 campers which was very popular. It’s €7 a night off peak and €12 peak season. (See All the Aires of France Book). There are several bars and restaurants and last night when we arrived at about 1930 there was live music and a great Buzz.

We sat on the beach which is huge and watched the Atlantic breakers coming in. These were pretty big waves and they had drawn quite a crowd. Plenty of people were in the sea diving into theses titans and a few hardy souls were trying to Surf or Body Board with limited success. There was also a 2 bed house for rent right on the beach.

There were two further camp sites on the road to the beach and a dozen more in and around this area so there’s plenty of choice.

The weather forecast for 7/8th was for rain but we’ve had two great days with temperatures around 27/28°. There has been some rain over night, but we can live with that.

So today we move on.

Jaki has targeted our next stop and it’s only six days till we go home.

The van has been brilliant but if we did this again I would want a bigger and newer van.

You have to cover huge distances so comfort whilst driving, some good music and cruise control are a must.

You need to be able to sit out a few days, or maybe even longer, of rain so a comfortable lounge with a TV set is ideal. Most long term travellers we’ve met have satellite TV .

You need a big garage where the comfortable chairs, even motor bikes can be stored making it easy to get around and explore rather than having to cycle everywhere. This comes into it’s own when you need some shopping.

But most importantly, you need comfortable beds.

Sleeping on the single (which is made up from the dining table) for the last 3 months is wearing. My hips hurt making it painful to lie on my side and I’ve developed a rash on each hip which is itchy and annoying. It would also be good if there were a door between Jaki and I to reduce the noise, allowing us both to get some sleep.the sky light is right above my bed so if it’s hot, it’s left open which means it gets light at 0500.

We’ve discussed the Pro’s and Cons of Camper versus Caravan and our conclusion is.

If you want to tour, use a camper. If your happy to stay some where long term, get a Caravan.

Or, rent a villa, they’re cheap as chips currently!


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